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Spiced Spinach with Almonds
(recipe, Lynne Rossetto Kasper)
Culinate editor's notes: Adding spices, almonds, and currants to spinach revitalizes a familiar vegetable and turns it into a substantial side dish. As Kasper notes, you can also make this 17th-century recipe with kale, turnip and radish greens, chard, beet greens, dandelions, and escarole. Just parboil these more sturdy leaves first before proceeding with the recipe. Kasper recommends using the spiced spinach to stuff poultry or pasta, but it's also good with baked fish. The cheeses or nuts can be left out if desired.
- 2 lb. fresh spinach, stems trimmed to base of leaves, or other greens (see Note)
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced onion
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon, or to taste
- Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, or to taste
- 5 Tbsp. blanched almonds, toasted and chopped
- 2 Tbsp. currants
- ½ cup (4 oz.) ricotta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup (4 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese
- Wash the spinach, but do not dry it. Set the spinach in a pot with the water that clings to its leaves and cook, covered, over medium heat until the leaves are wilted but still a bright green. Drain the spinach and shock it in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again. Squeeze out the excess moisture and coarsely chop.
- Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and currants. Sauté another 2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in the ricotta and warm it through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.
If using mature greens with thick stems, remove the stems. The stems of chard and beet greens can be cut into squares and cooked with the leaves. Fibrous greens like dandelion and winter kale should be parboiled until just tender, then shocked in ice water and drained.